interview :: aman khanna

Katie | August 16, 2016

Claymen is the brain child of New Delhi-based Aman Khanna – a London College of Communication-educated graphic artist and illustrator who has turned his hand to the third dimension after eight years spent creating visuals for the likes of the Guardian newspaper, the Times newspaper and the Wall Street Journal. His clay sculptures are inspired by the ordinary people who surround him everyday, using an equally commonplace material. His Observers (above) will be shown as part of This Is India, a curation of Indian design at the London Design Fair put together by Spandana Gopal and Kangan Arora. Katie Treggiden caught up with him to find out more…

What's the most important thing to know about you?

Being true to myself as much as I can and reflecting the same in my work.

interview :: aman khanna

Where do ideas come from?

They mainly come from my observations, interactions, feelings and thoughts, and there is a need to translate them somewhat immediately, through clay.

Tell me about your current collection.

In India we are used to big, bulky, sometimes delicate but mostly decorative artefacts all around us. There has been a wave of Scandinavian and Japanese inspired minimalism amongst the young designers, who have had enough of the big, loud and decorative and increasingly believe that ‘less is more.’ However sometimes more resources are wasted to create so-called minimalism. I feel this contradicts what minimalism stands for, which is more about a certain lifestyle than what the final product looks like. We need to revel in the simplicity of what is created, the parameters of what India has to offer. This collection is my reproach to design, keeping simplicity in mind with the aim of achieving ‘less is more’ but not in a way that is forced or imported, but by accepting the nature of things as they are with all their little imperfections.

interview :: aman khanna

Talk me through your design and making process from initial idea to final product.

I wanted to embrace the idea of ‘big and bulky’ but strip it down to its bare minimum, so I have tried to stick to the very basic process of moulding clay by hand with little wheel work involved. When clay is moulded by hand it remains rough and there are some parts that get pressed more than others, which creates deeper indents and marks. I wanted to show these objects in their pure form. The glazes are black, white and grey with the base material exposed in almost all the objects. The face sculptures have a very strong identity and evoke a strong emotion. All objects have been bisque fired first, glazed and then fired again at a high temperature.

interview :: aman khanna

Which part of the process do you enjoy most?

I love to create hand-moulded face sculptures. Sometimes an event, an interaction, a word or a statement will just get stuck in my head and I need to address it by giving it a shape or a form before I can make peace with it. Sometimes the opposite happens, I make a clay face and it just looks like a feeling I have had in the recent past and I name it accordingly. There is of course the making, but the thinking with and about them, telling little stories with them is very satisfying for me. It’s like having my own voice with which I can speak to the world.

interview :: aman khanna

What was the biggest challenge you overcame?

Understanding the law of diminishing returns!

What defines good design?

Good design should be simple because simple is beautiful, attractive and hard to achieve. It must serve its purpose and should be able to make itself back to Earth with ease. Originality is always a bonus.

interview :: aman khanna

What are you most proud of?

Overcoming any challenge and not giving up on what I love doing. There is also a feel-good factor when I am able to evoke a certain feeling or emotion in people with my work.

interview :: aman khanna

What advice would you give to a new designer?

Patience is virtue and virtue is its own reward.

And finally, what's your favourite colour?

Inconspicuous grey…I think!

interview :: aman khanna

Aman Khanna will be exhibiting at the London Design Fair as part of This Is India. Register for your tickets here.

Further Reading for the Especially Geeky ::

Founding Editor – Katie Treggiden

Having established confessions of a design geek in 2010, Katie Treggiden has gone on to a career in design journalism, writing for titles such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, Elle Decoration, Stylist, Design Milk and Ideal Home. In 2014, she launched Fiera, an independent magazine dedicated to discovering new talent at the world’s design fairs. Her second book, Makers of East London, was published in 2015.

Follow Katie on Twitter or Instagram.

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